DeSmog

A Tart Counterpoint to Ibbitson's Irrelevance

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We at the DeSmogBlog missed Globe and Mail columnist John Ibbitson’s original (and clearly goofy) column, but nobody should miss the response: a letter to the editor by Christian Schoof, research associate in glaciology, UBC Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences

Re: Clean-Air Treaty Worthy Of Effort (April 20) by John Ibbitson: So, 90 scientists encourage the government to tackle climate change, 60 recommend the opposite. What is a layman to do?”

Clearly, the journalistic layman makes up his mind: Cleaning up air pollution will do vastly more for us than addressing climate change. Here’s a parable for Mr. Ibbitson: He’s flying on holiday and the plane is ½ hour out over the Atlantic. Of 150 aerospace engineers on board, 90 say that there’s been a fuel leak and the plane has 40 minutes of flying time left. It’s time to turn around. The other 60 say that there’s no conclusive evidence of a leak and he should not turn around because it would inconvenience the CEOs in business class. Who does he listen to? The answer seems clear: He listens to the journalist who tells him he should really do something about the in-flight service.

This debate is about risk, not certainty. Mr. Ibbitson might choose to listen when more than half the experts are warning of a problem that threatens our entire species – I would. But maybe he cares more about that holiday in Europe.

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